Issue 48 Unusual Suspects: Upswept Blades Mike Searson Join the Conversation Call them what you want: Persians, Kwaikens, Sabers, Pesh Kabz, trailing points, or a host of other names fit to print. The upswept blade design may be one of the oldest blade designs, dating to the time man first made knives from metal. Some say the design was inspired by the shape of the horn of a rhino, ibex, or some type of antelope (perhaps a Mudhorn in a galaxy far, far away!). The CRKT Clever Girl was inspired by the curve of a velociraptor’s claw, for example. Personally, I think the initial design was born of convenience. I noticed this firsthand a few years ago when I learned the process of forging a blade from ABS Master Smith Michael Quesenberry. As I heated the steel in the forge and began hammering it into shape, the blade took on a natural curve when I was hammering the edge. This has to do with the steel spreading while it’s being drawn down. A true smith has several tools and techniques at his disposal to remedy this, but as my goal was to make a knife as quickly as possible with the material and tools at hand, I felt no need to correct it. I believe our iron age ancestors forging blades for the first time felt the same way, and that’s why we see the upswept blade pattern so often across many different cultures. Upswept blades have a commonality in that the edge curves upward and the tip rises higher than the axis of the blade’s spine. This gives the user a large curved cutting area often referred to as the belly of the blade, and the design is perfect for slicing, dicing, caping, fileting, and skinning. The tip often ends in a fine point. As a result, a properly made blade of this design excels in a self-defense role for making sharp cuts and deep thrusts. Some might claim the point of these designs looks fragile, but if you ever get a chance to speak with Ed Calderon of Ed’s Manifesto, ask him about the Emerson Persian he used directly against an armored-up cartel thug and how the tip held up! Though some of these may resemble a fishing knife in your tackle box or a boning knife on a butcher block, there’s a little more to each one than meets the eye. Make: Strider Knives Model: JC OAL: 8.375 inches Blade Length: 4.5 inches Blade Material: CRM 20CV Weight: 8.1 ounces MSRP: $395 URL: mickstridercustomknives.com 411: Strider’s JC is a midsized fixed blade with an upswept-style Persian blade. The handle is made of Coyote Tan G10 fiberglass, and it rides in a form-fitted Kydex sheath. Strider chose CRM 20CV steel for this model because of its toughness, corrosion resistance, and edge retention qualities. Despite its aggressive combat-worthy look, this knife is a winner at performing everyday cutting chores. A thumb ramp built into the spine of the blade allows the user to perform the finest cutting tasks. Pros: > The steel is CRM-20CV. The formula was based on BM 390, originally designed for the plastic industry; it excels in corrosive environments. > The thumb ramp serves two purposes: stability when thrusting and control when working on something delicate. > The double hollow-ground blade is shaving sharp and a good choice for a skinning knife. Cons: > The loop on the Kydex sheath created a lot of excessive movement while carrying. > Sharpening CRM 20CV is a task in and of itself. Make: Cold Steel Model: Roach Belly OAL: 8.5 inches Blade Length: 4.5 inches Blade Material: 4116 stainless Weight: 2.6 ounces MSRP: $21 URL: coldsteel.com 411: The Roach Belly is based on a 17th century Colonial blade with a similar profile. The hollow ground blade is made of subzero quenched German 4116 stainless steel with an injection-molded polymer handle and polymer sheath — a true update of a classic design. The price might be $20, but I’ve seen them sold at retail for half that amount, making it a good upswept blade to keep in the tacklebox, glovebox, or stored at a cabin. Pros: > The blade is shaving sharp out of the package and has a nice, clean look to it. > Not as specialized as you might think, but quite good for a variety of cutting chores from fileting and food prep to whittling and skinning game. > The knife is so lightweight you don’t even notice it clipped to your belt, LBE, etc. Cons: > Although it’s sturdy, the handle feels cheap, as if it might break under extreme use and is a bit too smooth. > Likewise, the plastic sheath gives the sense that it cost 11 cents to make. Make: Zero Tolerance Model: 0462 OAL: 8.9 inches Blade Length: 3.75 inches Blade Material: CPM-20CV Weight: 3.7 ounces MSRP: $325 URL: zt.kaiusaltd.com 411: Designed by Dmitry Sinkevich, the Zero Tolerance 0462 has a 3.75-inch upswept blade of CPM-20CV stainless steel. It opens quickly and easily with the KVT ball-bearing system and built-in flipper. The 0462 has a colored carbon-fiber front scale with a deep-red weave of color. The rear scale is a titanium frame lock with a hardened steel lock bar insert and a stonewashed finish. The knife locks up securely thanks to a frame lock. Pros: > The steel is CPM-20CV, known for its hardness, corrosion resistance, and edge retention. > This knife has a very classy appearance, like a gentleman’s tactical folder. > The handle material is carbon fiber and titanium; it doesn’t get much better than that for a factory knife. Cons: > The flipper took some getting used to and breaking in. > The pocket clip required a breaking-in period as well. At first it was a bit hard to draw from a pair of jeans. Make: Spyderco Model: Hundred Pacer OAL: 9.21 inches Blade Length: 4 inches Blade Material: CTS XHP Weight: 5.2 ounces MSRP: $360 URL: spyderco.com 411: Spyderco’s Hundred Pacer gets its name and some of its look from a Taiwanese pit viper (Deinagkistrodon acutus) that has a hemotoxic venom so potent that a victim drops dead after walking 100 paces. Hyperbole aside, Spyderco modeled the blade after the snake’s upturned snout and patterned the G10 scales like the pattern found on the snake’s scales. It may seem a bit on the large side for most people, but I’ve found it to be a capable slicer and comfortable EDC knife. Pros: > The steel is CTS XHP, which is a “stainless” version of D2 tool steel. > Despite its size, it comes out of the pocket amazingly quick. > The G10 scales are grippy and have good texture. Spyderco left them smooth under the clip so as to not tear up your pockets. Cons: > The knife takes up quite a bit of room in the pocket. > Ergonomics aren’t bad for most tasks, but the knife is a bit too blocky for fine cutting chores. Make: CRKT Model: Clever Girl Folder OAL: 9.5 inches Blade Length: 4.084 inches Blade Material: D2 Weight: 6.9 ounces MSRP: $160 URL: crkt.com 411: Austin McGlaun, a former paratrooper with the 101st Airborne and a police officer in Columbus, Georgia, designed the Clever Girl as part of the Forged by War series for CRKT. He turned his original fixed blade design into a folding knife with a D2 blade and Flavio Ikoma’s Deadbolt lock design. Opening the knife is a smooth flipping affair due to the bearings incorporated into the Deadbolt locking mechanism. When engaged, a series of steel bolts interlock with the blade and the liners to transform this folding knife into a fixed blade for all practical purposes. Pros: > D2 steel is one of the author’s favorite steels for a working knife. > The Deadbolt lock design may be the strongest locking mechanism ever materialized for a folding knife. > G10 scales provide grip retention and plenty of traction. Cons: > The Deadbolt lock is biased for right-handed users. Southpaws will need to adapt. > Not a fan of bend-over pocket clips, they can tear your pockets up. Make: Benchmade Model: Bedlam OAL: 9.76 inches Blade Length: 4 inches Blade Material: 154CM Weight: 7.2 ounces MSRP: $235 URL: benchmade.com 411: The Bedlam resembles a Middle Eastern Scimitar blade because it was designed for the King of Jordan’s Royal Guard as a Jambiya. While on the large side, it’s one of the most comfortable knives to handle. Available with or without serrations, as an automatic or a manual opener, in stonewashed steel, or black coated, this Persian-style blade excels at fileting. Pros: > The 154CM blade is tough, laser sharp, rust resistant, and has an easily maintainable edge. > Benchmade’s Axis lock provides for a solid lockup and quick deployment. > The textured G10 is comfortable and grippy. Cons: > The knife’s clip is poorly positioned and not a good example of what Benchmade typically offers. > A bit on the large size, some people may think it’s too big for an EDC blade. Make: Case Model: Winkler Hambone OAL: 9.8 inches Blade Length: 4.9 inches Blade Material: 80CRV2 Weight: 12 ounces MSRP: $326 URL: caseknives.com 411: Daniel Winkler is an ABS Master smith who was best known for making the tomahawks used in The Last of the Mohicans, winning cutting competitions with his forged blades and most recently working with military units on combat knife and tomahawk designs. This knife represents his collaboration with U.S. Army veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha and as a tribute to Romesha’s fallen comrades, eight stars decorate the spine of the blade. Manufactured by Case Knives, the Winkler Hambone excels as a field knife for hunting, camping, and hiking. Pros: > The steel is 80CRV2, a high carbon steel that’s tough and holds an edge. > This blade has a lot of belly, aiding in skinning and slicing. > The textured black canvas laminate grip was developed by Winkler for his custom knives and provides a dependable grip. Cons: > The blade’s thickness is at odds with the fine slicing chores we associate with a trailing point blade. > TekLok would’ve been better than a metal clip on the sheath. 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